Issue 2 Editorial

The past few months have been jubilant ones for South Africa, both in the lead-up and for the duration of an extremely successful soccer World Cup. South Africa has seen almost unprecedented levels of national unity, patriotism and civic participation, and the near-seamless delivery of an international mega-event with enormous efficiency and finesse.

 In the wake of the World Cup, this edition of the newsletter joins in other voices around the country, and indeed around the world, in celebrating South Africa’s unique brand of soccer success and the overpowering gees that gripped the country.

However, with our new stadium seats now often empty, well-worn flags ruefully removed from cars and vuvuzelas quietened, contributing authors to this edition pose a number of sobering questions about the country going forward, now that soccer is no longer centre-field.

For many, these questions revolve around good governance practices, a higher standard of service delivery, the quality and integrity of political leadership, and the importance of successfully building on the social and structural achievements of the World Cup.

As many readers will know, this year the IJR celebrates our tenth anniversary, and this edition of the newsletter starts off with an article from Institute patron, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Reflecting on the years that have passed since both the Institute’s founding and the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process, Archbishop Tutu finds that despite significant progress in post-apartheid South Africa, much work is still required in, among other challenges, implementing the recommendations of the TRC and overcoming poverty and inequality, HIV/Aids, violent crime and corruption. However, the Archbishop also reminds us that South Africa continues to ‘defy the odds’ and remains on ‘a trajectory towards future success’.It is important, he concludes, that we ‘not lose our way now’. 

Turning to South Africa’s opportunities in the post-World Cup period, Zayd Minty explores possibilities and prospects for further social cohesion through the new infrastructure of our cities, and looks to Barcelona as a model following its hosting of the Olympic Games in 1992.

Also with a post-Cup focus, Heindrich Wyngaard debriefs on the calibre of South Africa’s political leadership in orchestrating the soccer event. He raises questions about the quality of those at the helms of both state and ruling party in comparison with the integrity and humanism of former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy. Then, Imraan Buccus assesses the current state of political tolerance in South Africa, and examines whether or not open spaces still exist for democratic contestation, expression and debate.

Amid recent reports of violence and intimidation against migrants, Loren Landau evaluates responses to xenophobia from both government and the ANC, including the decision to roll out the support of the National Defence Force. Unwillingness to acknowledge the specific targeting of foreign nationals, Landau suggests, threatens both the political credibility of leadership and the security of all living in the country.

Finally, moving outside of South Africa’s borders, IJR programme manager Tim Murithi reports on the recent Review Conference of the International Criminal Court (ICC), held in Kampala, Uganda. While a ‘crucial milestone’ for the ongoing work of the ICC in Africa, Murithi suggests that the lack of consensus on the appropriate sequencing of peace and justice interventions in post-conflict societies was in fact a lost opportunity.

In the aftermath of such a positive and important time for South Africa, these difficult questions can be hard to hear, but the asking remains important nonetheless. Readers are encouraged to comment on the Reconciliation Barometer blog or send these to me at kate – at – ijr.org.za. I hope that you find this collection of new articles as interesting and thought-provoking as I do.

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